New Zealand strait crossed for first time by electric plane

WELLINGTON -- Gary Freedman was the first person to cross New Zealand's Cook Strait using an electric plane. He thought it fitting that the rotating blade of a windturbine producing renewable energy would be the first thing he saw as he approached the Wellington coastline.

New Zealand strait crossed for first time by electric plane

WELLINGTON -- Gary Freedman was the first person to cross New Zealand's Cook Strait using an electric plane. He thought it fitting that the rotating blade of a windturbine producing renewable energy would be the first thing he saw as he approached the Wellington coastline.

Freedman flew the small, two-seater aircraft solo for 40 minutes over the South Pacific body of water. This was 101 years after the first flight of a conventional aircraft above the area.

Monday's flight was intended to draw attention to greener flying. It was timed to coincide in Glasgow, Scotland with the opening of the U.N. climate summit.

Officials at Wellington International Airport believe that it is the longest distance an electric plane can fly across water.

"It's an exciting day for the airport. Jenna Raeburn, spokesperson for the airport, said that it was a world record-setting day.

Freedman stated that the day started badly when it poured rain near his departure point in Blenheim. After 15 minutes delay, the weather cleared enough to allow for takeoff. Soon, it was sunny over the ocean.

Freedman stated that he was thrilled when he landed and that the technology worked much better than he had hoped.

He said, "We still had 40% in the battery." "We could have flown back almost immediately."

ElectricAir founder, Freedman (49), said that he has been passionate about the environment for a long time. The idea was born out of the incongruity between flying an electric plane and driving an electric car.

He flew to Slovenia to purchase a Pipistrel Alpha Electro aircraft, then went through several hoops with New Zealand's aviation regulators to get it cleared.

It is lighter than traditional aircraft and weighs in at less than 400 kg (880 pounds). Freedman flew the trip at just 1,000 feet (305m) above the sea level, and at a relatively slow speed 130 km/h (81 mph), to keep its charge.

Freedman stated that it takes approximately one hour to fully charge the aircraft. It can fly for about an hour. Freedman uses the plane primarily to train pilots.

According to Raeburn, a spokeswoman for Wellington International Airport, regular short-hop flights with new 12-seater electric aircrafts will be possible within five years.

She stated that electric technology is still not advanced enough to power large passenger aircrafts. However, biofuels or hydrogen are likely to be greener options in the future.

Updated Date: 01 November 2021, 13:58

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